The Arrival, 1996. Directed by David Twohy. Charlie Sheen, Ron Silver, Lindsay Crouse

Writer/director David Twohy makes a surprisingly effective directorial debut with this "aliens among us" thriller in which radio astronomer Charlie Sheen stumbles onto a conspiracy to accellerate global warming and remake the Earth's climate for the alien take-over. This has more actual ideas going for it than your average sci-fi epic and it extrapolates ruthlessly and efficiently (a refreshing change of pace in sci-fi movies). There is also a singularly cruel suspense sequence with scorpions here that is just a superb piece of styling, a razor sharp job of filmmaking. On the other hand, Charlie Sheen's non-performance leaves a big empty spot at the center of the movie and the special effects would have been dazzling ten years ago. This succeeds, ultimately, on the strength of its filmmaking, which is sure handed even when it is dealing with substandard raw materials. Not too bad for a summer popcorn-muncher.